At around 1200 UT this Monday, a big cracking sound dashed the hopes of Franck Cammas and his nine crew in their bid to break Orange 2’s round the world record from back in 2005 (50 d 16h 20′). A bulkhead attached to the aft beam simply gave up the ghost in the harsh conditions as the giant trimaran was sailing with her sails angled at 90° to the true wind in a powerful air flow and rough seas. The crew knew they had to go fast to stay in the right sector of the warm front, hot on their heels, in order to drop down towards the Cape of Good Hope with the Brazilian low. The resulting weakness then caused the windward float to fissure and, in light of the sizeable damage, the crew immediately stopped the boat and concluded that it would be necessary to abandon this round the world attempt.
"We’d spent the night sailing fast to stay ahead of the front and this morning Thomas Coville and Bruno Jeanjean were on deck when they heard a big `crack’: there was a small fissure between the aft beam and the port float. Conditions were really bouncy: we came to a standstill with the wind right on our tail so as to be able to open the hatch and get down inside the float. Part of the section between the beam and the float level with the bulkhead had become detached. As such the structural integrity was reduced by at least half. It is impossible to envisage effecting repairs at sea due to the motion. At the moment we’re still being shaken about: there was 35 knots of wind on the beam at the moment the incident occurred and just now, we’ve been caught up by the front so we’ve got 40 knots of breeze…
We’ve dumped the mainsail and Groupama 3 is running before the wind to avoid any harsh motion. We’re going to draw up a route to avoid having too much wind and excessive waves. We’re heading South to let the second low pass by us tonight and then we’ll head off towards Cape Town tomorrow morning, Tuesday. We’re continuing with the same watch system and I’m working with Stan to see what we can do next. The idea then is to get back to France as quickly as possible: the crew’s up for that and if we can set off again before the end of January then it’s still feasible to make a new attempt!" indicated Franck Cammas during a telephone link-up early this afternoon. Video here, discussion here.